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The great escape

It is a beautiful day today. The sky is bright blue and cloudless. Everything around me is calm. It's not like the quiet before a storm but a return to the way things should be. Although I am not naïve enough to think that all the world's problems have vanished, I can take a moment to enjoy the serenity. Things weren't always this calm.

At Dave's supermarket, where I worked when I was in high school, the world around me was in constant flux. In the two or three years I was there, two security guards and a manager were fired for "shopping" after hours. When the doors had closed and the stock crew arrived to price items and restock the shelves, the manager would fill a shopping cart with hundreds of dollars' worth of food, put them in shopping bags, then load them into his car. He did this every night for many months until he was eventually caught.

There was a kid who worked the night shift. His job was to unload the truck, check the inventory, then stock the shelves. The night crew was a loud and crazy bunch who loved to crack jokes and hurl racial insults at each other. They were also a swift well-oiled machine that worked with impressive precision. Watching them move stock was like watching a professional sports team. However, one kid on the night crew used his skills to steal a case of cigarettes a night for a countless number of nights. The rumor was that he sold the cigarettes on the streets and purchased a car with the money he had earned. Even a used car would have cost a lot, which means he stole and sold a significant amount.

The stockroom is where we used to take our breaks. The store had a deal with its suppliers that allowed it to return or get credit for damaged goods. Whenever something new came in that we wanted to taste, someone would "damage" it. Since we couldn't sell it, we had no choice but to eat it. New snacks or pastries were particularly vulnerable to attack. One day when we were in the backroom trying a damaged raspberry danish, the security guard brought a woman in for questioning and detention until the police could arrive. She had been caught shoplifting.

The stock room was not only our break room but also the holding cell for shoplifters. Because all the stock was in boxes on pallets, there was no danger of anyone running away with a case of pork and beans. The woman he brought in it looked insane. Her hair was matted and dirty. Her clothes looked like they had been on her body since the 1970s. The guard handcuffed her to a rail and told her to wait there till the cops arrive. After the guard left, the woman started screaming. She wanted us to let her go. Of course, we didn't. Eventually, she started convulsing like she was having a seizure. We called for the guard. He uncuffed her and laid her down on the floor. Her body was writhing as if demons had possessed her. An ambulance quickly arrived. The paramedics quickly looked her over then put her in the truck for transport. We watched them drive up the street and stop at an intersection. Then he saw the door fly open and the woman jump out. She ran off into the concrete of the city. No one ran after her. We just laughed.


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